Updated with AP250 and Underbone 150 reports on 3rd December 2018
There was emotional overload at Chang International Circuit this afternoon as Ratthapong Wilairot completed his first ever ARRC double win to claim the 2018 Supersport 600 title.
The achievement, coming on the eighth anniversary of the passing of his father, Christmas Wilairot, has profound significance for Ratthapong, who was joined by his brother and mother, holding a memorial photo of the Thai racing legend.
It was the climax of a weekend during which Ratthapong had topped free practice and qualifying sessions as well as winning both races. There was also an historical elegance to proceedings, as the last Thai Supersport champion, Decha Kraisart, adopted the role of big brother and shadowed his team-mate to the finish line in both races.
In a repeat of race one, Decha made a perfect launch from the middle of the front row and stretched away from title protagonists, Ratthapong and Yudhistira. A determined Azlan also made his way into contention, slotting into fifth, behind Keminth Kubo. Yudhistira briefly got ahead of Ratthapong, before the Thai rider got back in front and opened up a gap on the Kawasaki. Yudhistira subsequently fell into the clutches of Kubo, who engaged him while Ratthapong moved closer to Decha.
Azlan, chased by Koyama, closed in on the battle for third, passing Kubo, who fought back, only to low-side out of the contest on lap eight. Meanwhile, Decha gave way to his team-mate at the front to go five points clear in the live standings and Yudhistira began to consolidate third place, as Koyama passed Azlan for fourth.
At the end of lap 12 and with one third of the race distance remaining, the gap between the blue duo at the front and Yudhistira was four seconds, who had Koyama heading towards the back of his Kawasaki. Decha looked as though he had the pace to win, but the more important job of helping Ratthapong become the first Thai to win the title since he himself last claimed it in 2010, prevailed.
Yudhistira finished three seconds back from Decha, just holding off Koyama for third, while Azlan was fifth, a further 3.5 seconds in arrears.
Ratthapong’s win brought his points total to 141, five clear of the sidelined Anthony West. Yudhistira’s third place brought his total to 135 and therefore third in the final standings. Full results here.
Asia Production 250: first win for Andy Fadly
With Muklada Sarapuech suspended for one race after the previous day’s last corner pinball performance, it was left to Anuparb and Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi, starting from the front row, to fly the Thai tricolor in race two.
Anuparb who got the best start to lead a determined Andy Muhammad Fadly, Awhin Sanjaya, Kritchaporn and the rest of the field round to turn three. A brave move by Awhin into the fast turn four took him to the front, but there was little to choose between the first 11 riders.
2018 champion, Rheza Danica Ahrens, moved to the front at the start of lap two and Mario Suryo Aji came through to make sure that all three Astra Hondas were close to the front. For Yamaha Thailand, Anuparb and Peerapong Boonlert settled in the middle of the group together with Kritchaporn. The green of Andy Fadly’s Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki broke up the red and blue of the other leading machines.
As the last lap lottery began, Mario, Fadly, Awhin and Anuparb had a small gap back to Rheza, Kritchporn and Peerapong, who quickly closed back in by the time they reached turn five. As they braked for the final corner, Anuparb was forced onto the grass and lost just enough momentum for Awhin, Fadly and Kritchaporn to beat him to the line. Mario, Peerapong and Rheza were all within six tenths of the winner to complete the top seven positions. Five seconds further back, race one winner, Rafid Topan Sucipto, held off Galang Hendra Pratama and Kanatat Jaiman for eighth place.
Race Direction subsequently intervened to penalise Awhin, Kritchaporn, Peerapong and Mario by dropping them five places each for exceeding track limits. That handed Fadly his first win and brought Rheza and Anuparb up to second and third places.
Rheza’s total points haul for the year increased to 226 and Anuparb held onto second place with 158 points from Rafid, who finished with 151.
Astra Honda were confirmed as the 2018 team champions for the second year in succession. Full results here.
Underbone 150cc: Gupita finishes 2018 on a high
There was plenty of anticipation ahead of Underbone race two, with Indonesian eyes especially on rising star, Wawan Wello.
Starting from pole, Wawan again out-dragged the rest of the field into turn one and briefly opened a gap until the chasing peloton pulled him back in on the long straight between turns three and four. Newly crowned champion, Helmi Azman, along with Syahrul Amin, Ahmad Fazli Sham, Peerapong Luiboonpeng and Akid Aziz hounded the Indonesian upstart, forcing him back into the middle of the leading group by lap three.
Clearly believing in his right to lead the race, Wawan had charged back to the front one lap later, as his SND team-mates, Gupita and Syahrul, along with Helmi, Akid and Fazli Sham stayed close, trying to work out a way past the wild card.
As is often the case at the Thai circuit, the last corner played a major role in the finishing order. After leading much of the final lap, Wawan got caught in a melee as the leaders fanned out under braking for turn 12. A total of seven bikes went down and Syahrul scrambled through to the chequered flag first, one tenth ahead of Gupita who was chased across the line by Aiman Azman and Fazli Sham. After Race Direction handed out five place penalties for exceeding track limits, Gupita was elevated to first position from Aiman, McKinley Kyle Paz, Helmi and Wawan.
With Helmi Azman having been crowned as champion the previous day, Izzat Zaidi’s 10th place was enough to confirm him as second in the overall standings, with 130 points from Team ONEXOX TKKR’s Ahmad Fazli Sham.
SCK Rapido Hi Rev Honda are the 2018 team champions from Yamaha Yamalube SND Racing and RCB Yamaha YY Pang.
Smiling even more broadly than usual, Helmi Azman confirmed that he will remain with SCK to contest the Supersport 600 championship in 2019. Full results here.